Great grandma Kong nee Lai aka Ah Tai aka Ah Siew Soh
Widowed at 29 in a harsh new frontier
Ah Tai, was very able and single handedly took care of her four children. Her relatives were flabbergasted how she had overcome her grief. Great-grandfather Kong’s death became a catalyst bringing out her leadership qualities. Ah Tai became a willful woman, and one not to be trifled with. She had to; otherwise she would be bullied by ruthless men. Ah Tai had charisma, and she got people working for her and they listened to her.
In Sibu, there was an unusual practice presenting gifts to prominent members of society to announce the birth of a child. These people always asked a famous woman to do the job. This person was none other than my Ah Tai. A very high ranking police chief from Perak, Tan Sri Koo Chong Kong was one of her many fostered sons. So was the manager of Lido theatre. When the VIPs in Sibu held dinner parties, Ah Tai was sure to be invited. Ah Tai was a socialite, the Kai ma (fostered mum) of Tan Sri Koo Chong Kong
Grandmother Kong aka Lai Yii aka Bodai
Grandmother Kong aka Lai Yii came from the Kwang Si province. Her father was a traveling Medicine man and she was a proud woman. In the past, a medicine man could cure simple ailments with his medicine. The people even called him Doctor or master. Grandmother Kong claimed her father was a doctor and hence a class higher than the other villagers. The women would answer back that he was just a drug peddler. She was less than ten years old when she came to Sarawak at the same time as Ah Tai and Grandfather Kong. Her parents made the match with Ah Tai to marry her to Grandfather.
Bodai was the only of my three grandmas I had interaction a lot. She did what most girls her generation did, cook, made cakes and sew. And I proudly claim that I am the only grand daughter of her who learned quilting from her.
We didn't live with my maternal Grandma, she came to visit frequently and to help Mum when she gave birth to my younger siblings. She came to cook for Mum's confinement month, that is the whole month after a woman had her baby.
Grandma made one patchwork quilt for each of her three daughters. As a kid, my immediate younger sister Margaret and I had fun looking for her Chinese stars. Her stars were very unusual. It has 21 pieces of tiny squares and triangles cleverly stitched together. She didn't make many stars as it was very difficult to make.
I drink of chamomile tea, I love the slightly bitter taste. It is
supposed to be calming and soothing. After the discussion
with the gardening forum, I did some research and went to
buy the German Chamomile plant. I didn't mind paying for
them because it is good for you. My grandmas who were
into growing herbs would approve.